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Dashboard Design: Google Activity

I quite like Google’s monthly email on account activity. It is the Google way to offer free services, as well as treat users as special, that continues to command loyalty despite occasional exasperation with corporate thingies.

See this dashboard-

1Notice the use of Bigger Font for overall number of emails as well as smaller bar plots- I would say they are almost spark lines or spark bar plots if you excuse my Tufte.

The medium range font shows persons sent/from statistics, and the color shades are done to empahsize or de-emphasize the metric

Colors used are black/grey, green and blue coincident with the Corporate Logo.

However some of the JS for visualizations need to be tweaked. Clearly the hover script ( an  integral part of Dashboard design ) needs better elucidiation or formatting)


I would also venture my neck and suggest that rather than just monthly snapshots, atleast some way of comparing snapshots across periods or even the total time period be enabled- rather than be in seperate views.  This may give the user a bit more analytical value.

Overall, a nice and simple dashboard which may be of some use to the business user who makes or views a lot of reports on online properties. Minimal and effective- and in keeping with Open Data- Data Liberation Principles. I guess Google is secure in the knowledge that users do not view time spent on Google services as a total waste , unlike some of the other more social ;) websites they spend time on.

Google’s Product Strategy

  1. Copy an idea from existing product. Make worse interface, but give more freebies. Do not charge money ( or charge vastly reduced ). Launch without warning.
  2. Write a blog post every three month on the launched product
  3. Watch product lose money as they did not charge any/some money to begin with.
  4. Close the product down without warning.
  5. Repeat.

groundhog day 1

Easier Tagging for E Commerce by Google Tag Manager

Ok I guess I am a bit late to this, but I really like the concept of Google Tag Manager https://developers.google.com/tag-manager/ and the fact they have a WordPress plugin ready http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-google-tag-manager/. What does it do? It integrates all your tags on websites on one dashboard. So much easier Web Analytics for marketing people who dont want to learn Reg Ex , JS etc.


IT-friendly – Google Tag Manager has lots features to set your mind
at ease—like user permissions, automated error checking, the Debug
Console, and asynchronous technology. So everything runs efficiently,
with no unpleasant surprises.
• Quick and easy – Users add or change tags whenever they want, to
keep sites running smoothly and quickly. Tags are managed with an
easy-to-use web interface, so there’s no need to write or rewrite site
code following implementation.
• Verified tags & templates – Google Tag Manager makes it easy to
verify that new tags are working properly, so users don’t need to call on
IT to check the tags. Built-in tag templates and automatic error checking
also prevent tags with improper formatting from even being deployed
on your site.
• Swift loading – Google Tag Manager replaces all your measurement
and marketing tags with a single, asynchronously loading tag—so your
tags can fire faster without getting in each other’s way.


Running R GUI on Google Compute

I wanted to run R GUIs ( rattle, Rcmdr, Deducer) on my Google Compute Instance, but didnt know how to figure out how to enable x11.

Initially I just tried to enable x11 forwarding in the local ssh (Ubuntu) and remote sshd( GCE), but it still needed some more.

Note I use gedit to edit files locally ( since it is easier) and vi to edit files remotely ( because I didnt have a graphical environment there yet) . I used vi help from the link here  (basically sudo vi filename opens the file in Linux, you scroll down and press Insert to write your changes, then hit escape, then write this to save and quit :qw ( or :q! to NOT save and quit), your mouse is quite useless and the arrow keys dont help much in vi- I assure you that)

/etc/ssh_config or ~/.ssh/config
ForwardX11 yes

restarted local ssh

X11Forwarding yes

restarted remote sshd

Well this is how it is done- following is a copy and paste from actual discussion-

here are two steps you have to do in order to run X-windows applications on your instance.

1) You have to install some X-windows applications on your instance.  I used the command
sudo apt-get install xterm
which works on Ubuntu.  On Centos, you would use the command
yum install xterm
but I didn’t test that.
2) You have to create an X-windows tunnel through SSH.  You do that with the -X switch to the gcutil ssh command:
 gcutil ssh –ssh_arg -X INSTANCE
When you login to the instance, verify that the tunnel is in place.
$rman@test-pd:~$ echo $DISPLAY
By way of contrast, this is what it looks like if the tunnel didn’t work:
rman@test-pd:~$ echo $DISPLAY

Hat Tip- gce discussion group on google groups  https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/gce-discussion  and Jeff Silverman from the GCE team.

Modifying Sources File in Linux for Monet DB Installation

If you like me are a Linux newbie, the following helps in modifying the source file . i.e for adding in sources for Monet DB installation

sudo sh -c ‘echo “deb http://dev.monetdb.org/downloads/deb/ precise monetdb” > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/monetdb.list’
sudo sh -c ‘echo “deb-src http://dev.monetdb.org/downloads/deb/ precise monetdb” > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/monetdb.list’


ps- I was on Google compute/ Linux


Why Google will never be a monopoly?

1) It takes 5 seconds to switch your Search Engine Provider.

2) It consistently does not lock you with added services of its own (like Youtube runs on Iphones and Facebook and on Internet Explorer and so does the search engine  and so does Google Maps).

3) It has leveraged the maximum from goodwill from open source developers without investing too much money back into them Goodwill is precious and once you lose dev cred you lose it for some time (as some companies found out in the last decade).

4) It has very well funded rivals from MS, Oracle,and Apple and Facebook. That alone will guarantee competition more than any lawyer.

Some Google Strengths-

5) Its  portfolio remains under monetized  – that gives it plenty of flexibility. The following products are the best in class, and yet are mostly free for retail customers.

  •  Youtube
  • Gmail
  • Android
  • Google Maps
  • Chrome
  • Google Analytics
  • Google Docs/Drive

6) Its main product is free to use. You cant beat free. You can try. but cant.

7) It remains the prime source of CS/ Math/Stat related talent on this planet (remember Map Reduce paper). Only the NSA has more bad ass geeks.

8) It tries not to be evil. Mostly it is not evil. Sometimes the ads get irritating. But never evil.


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